This Woman Has Clarity of Purpose… Born in Brooklyn; She Pens Her Novels in Sydney, Australia!!!!
By: Daryl Jackson
Rojé Augustin (pronounced ro-jhay) has more than fifteen years experience in television production. Born and raised in New York, Rojé began her career at the New York Daily News, where she wrote for the lifestyle publication BET Weekend Magazine. She then moved to television, first at CBS New Productions where she cut her teeth on hour-long documentaries, then to 20/20 with Barbara Walters and John Stossel, Primetime with Diane Sawyer, and Good Morning America Weekend Edition as a writer and producer for ABC. She has also produced for The Tyra Banks Show and E! In the summer of 2006, Rojé moved with her husband and two daughters to London where she began work on her debut novel The Unraveling of Bebe Jones.
Tell me a little about your award winning novel, “The Unraveling of Bebe Jones.”
“The Unraveling of Bebe Jones” is a book that’s all about experimenting. For one thing, it’s intended as a kind of television drama series in print, with each book representing a ‘season’.
So are you suggesting that you’ve already completed the rest of the books, or should I say seasons, for this drama series?
Yes, I am. The second book in the series is well under way, with all the characters returning for another season of relationships and jealousies, triumphs and disappointments, joys and tragedies. Plus, there’s a surprise companion to the series to follow, so stay tuned.
What is your ultimate goal for the “The Unraveling of Bebe Jones?”
As a television producer and lover of the TV drama series, which to me, are like novels on the screen, my ultimate goal is to have the BeBe Jones series translated to the screen.
Why is that your ultimate goal?
Because television is an enormously powerful and influential medium and there is no better place in my opinion, besides books of course, to say what you want to say.
How do you hope to affect the readers of this novel?
I suppose, “The Unraveling of BeBe Jones” is my nudge to mainstream media to do something outside the box where African American stories are concerned. A tall order I know, but one must aim high in life.
When I was growing up the Cosby show was one such show, do you remember how the Huxtables’ were the family at the heart of that series?
Of course, in many ways it helped to motivate this writing. It was an excellent, groundbreaking, race-neutral sitcom that introduced America to an average middle class family that just happened to be black. Where have these types of shows gone? This is an important question for me because it gets to the core of why I do what I do, say what I say, and write what I write.
How did your childhood help to mold the writer you are today?
As a child of the 70’s, I grew up on an unsavory TV diet of black characters that dwelled in criminal, marginal, supporting, or second-class shadows. We were slaves, we were pimps, we were hookers, we were thieves, we were dumb and we were poor. Always. Yes, there were a few exceptions and yes things are changing in the media today, but not enough. They are mere token changes. The point of all this is that it had a deep impact on me. To have continually watched people of color typecast in negative stereotypes was, in many ways, a psychologically debilitating experience for me because, it became all too easy to internalize a subconscious patina of inferiority and anger. I’m over that now, thank the Lord, but I don’t want the same to happen to my children, and I already see it starting in them.
You seem really passionate about trailblazing a different path for your children, what will be your strategy, their legacy?
“The Unraveling of BeBe Jones” is my answer to this -my strategy- a story conceived out of a life-long passion to create a popular saga about an African-American family whose struggles do not stem from racial issues or stereotypes but from the experiences of trust, betrayal, greed, hatred, love and death that mark us all as human beings.
You’ve suggested that this novel will one day be featured on TV or as a film. Are you prepared to produce and executive produce the project?
I want to turn BeBe Jones into a drama TV series, like Six Feet Under, with me as one of the producers/writers. That’s the ultimate goal. There are four other books to come. I am prepared to sell rights for TV with my participation. I haven’t considered film yet. Does that answer your question?
Essence News & Culture writer, Patrik Henry Bass suggests that in searching for a smart, funny, modern novel, his prayer was answered by downloading the “Unraveling of BeBe Jones.” As an author does that give you satisfaction that one of your peers is so appreciative of your work? Don’t rush your answer.
Awesome question, I was very happy that Patrik at Essence enjoyed my book. I have much respect for him as he is an amazing writer. It meant the world to me. I’ll always be grateful!
Does Patrik’s description of your novel as a delicious read fuel the appetite for completion of the next novel in the series, as well as completion of the entire series?
I’ve already started the second novel, and have all five mapped out. I know exactly how the series will end. Each book is intended as a season.
You’ve described, “The Unraveling of BeBe Jones” as a television drama series in print. If you had one wish granted for your project to be produced, which network would air it and who would direct the episodes?
HBO for sure, directed by the Hughes Brothers, or Steven Soderbergh.
You’ve seemed to have left out my favorite choice, hot shot director, Rob Hardy, owner of Rainforest Films and Bounce TV. Did you know he directs shows like Criminal Minds on CBS and Castle on ABC?
Wow, you’re absolutely right. He too would be an excellent choice!
Roje’, you’ve had some amazing jobs in television. Which one amazed you the most or challenged you the best?
Producing for ABC’s 20/20 was great, because I got to work with the amazing Barbara Walters, John Stossel, and Diane Sawyer. Also, each story was different and I did everything from police ride alongs to undercover camera work! It was an incredible ride!
Finally, I’ve heard wonderful things about, “The Write Space.” Is that your baby?
I established Breaknight Films shortly after moving to Sydney in 2009. The Write Space is my first project under the Breaknight banner, so to answer your question, yes it is my baby! “The Write Space” is a documentary series that explores the relationship between celebrated writers, including novelists to playwrights, screenwriters to producers, bloggers to comedians, and their workspace. The series brings together my two great loves, words and television.
Wow, you have it mapped out seriously. That was a definite answer. It is incredible that you’ve chosen to raise your children internationally. Kudos, for being courageous and it’s clear that you have, “clarity of purpose” downpat. I thank you for your time. This will be our finest feature ever at Gumbumper.com. I hope you are pleased with the result. The information you’ve supplied me with is top notch; Outstanding! You’re definitely positioned to have a funtastical life!
Clarity of purpose has been my greatest asset, Daryl. Thank you. And having lived abroad has given me strength and flexibility! Amen!